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Member Service improvements


giffgaff is growing... very fast, which is fantastic news. I wish I could share with you exactly how well we're doing but as we've said before it's too commerically sensitive to reveal our exact numbers. Suffice to say we are well ahead of where we thought we'd be at this stage.

However success does bring with it its own set of problems. One of those is that in last 3 months we have seen a very large increase in the volume of account related queries, and port in requests - due to all those new members coming on board.

Port in requests in particular are very manual and time-consuming to process. This has put a lot of pressure on our valiant Member Service agents - who deal with both queries and ports.

In addition, new Ofcom regulations are about to come in (from April 11th) which require all mobile companies to process port in and port out requests twice as fast as they do currently. Again, this is great news for giffgaff (anything that makes it easier and faster for customers to leave mobile compnaies that are failing them is all right with us). But it does mean we have to make sure we can deliver against these timelines.

So to maintain service levels, and fulfil our obligations to Ofcom we are making some improvements to our Member Support operation.

1) Port in process improvements. From April 11th new Ofcom regulations  mean that port in requests must be completed within 1 working day (currently it is 2 working days).

In order to make sure we can do this we are bringing on a small team of new agents who will focus exclusively on ports.The new thing for us is that these agents will be based in India. Both the India and the Derry based agents are provided by the same supplier. So we have complete consistency in approach and management between the two sites. I have personally visited the team in India and can absolutely vouch for their commitment to customer service and professionalism, I look forward to having them join our extended team.

The main reason for locating these porting agents in India is cost. As a low cost business giffgaff needs to keep its operating costs low, and India is a cheaper location than Derry. However we also get a potential benefit from the time difference. India is 5 and a half hours ahead of the UK, so as a unified team it means we have the option of having a working day that starts at 4am UK time. This means we have greater flexibility to turn ports around in the required timeframe.

Having the Indian team focus exclusively on ports also means that the Derry team can focus on account queries - which are typically more complex individual cases which require a deeper understanding of giffgaff operations. To head off a question that I'm sure some will ask... this does not mean that we are looking to move the entire support operation to India in the future. We may expand their remit beyond ports by the end of this year, but we will always keep the Derry team as we recognise that service is not all about cost. There is a benefit for members in having agents who are closer to the core business, and that will not be compromised.

We are currently setting up and training the Indian team on the port process. The first day of porting being handled by the Indian team will be April 4th. Once they are all up and running I will introduce our extended team in the same kind of way we did last year.

2) More agents in Derry. Since we introduced the agent team to the communuity at the end of last year we have increased the Derry team by 30%. Given the recent continued increase in our customer numbers we are going to increase the team again by another 20%. Our new recruits will start in the first weeks of April, and I'll introduce them when they are on board.

3) Longer 'opening times' for agents. We have looked at the trends of when account queries are submitted and are changing our shift patterns for Derry agents, to better cover the periods of peak demand. This also means that we can be more efficient - which in turn means we can extend the overall the time the agents are online.

From Saturday 26th March Derry based agents will be available until 10pm seven days a week (currently they finish at 7 pm).

These changes will mean that we can keep giving members a brilliant personal service even as we grow rapidly as a business.



It's a pity that people aren't realistic about how much this would really cost to hire someone in the UK. Let's face it, this type of role is doing nothing but processing port requests. For the time being at elast they're not handling anything more complex than that, it is hardly a high level role requiring a large salary is it? From the o2 website I can see giffgaff are currently recruiting for 4 head office roles, brilliant. But if you look at some of these roles they do seem somewhat non-essential. It'd be great to have people doing these roles but I'm sure they could get by without them, this suggests to me they've got the money, they just don't want to spent it.


It's a little worrying that there seems to be very few people who can see what giffgaff is up to here. We'll see in 12 months time how many agents are left in Londonderry.


aandms, ok I see what you mean you mean people on forums only here because of payback.


With regards to buying things from overseas. By doing that you put UK retailers and UK jobs at risks, regardless of where the item is manufactured. How is that different from giffgaff employing overseas staff?


James so are you suggesting it isn't cheaper to employ someone in India to do this? If so, why do you think they are doing it?

Yes it's not likely to be a highly paid job in the UK, but it's still likely to be significantly cheaper in India. 


The cost of living here is higher and people, quite rightly expect a reasonable salary - hence we have a minimum wage. But the result is that other areas can do it more cheaply. That's the reality


Of course it's cheaper to employ someone in India, where did I suggest anything to the contrary?


I'm just saying this low-level type job, we're hardly looking at £20K or £30K each are we?? Nearer to half of that!


If people really, really believe hiring staff in the UK to do this role will ruin giffgaff, the company is in some pretty serious financial trouble.

@gawright i see your point, but where i dont support argos buying a phone for example(i do buy phones from argos, they ripped me off yest charged me for an orange top up and didnt give me it) i support numerous jobs at customs, royal mail and the post office. Smiley Wink

aandms. Yes good point, although some of those probably outsource as well! 


James, the extra costs would have to come from somewhere and if it makes giffgaff less competitive that's no good for anyone


(and remember the costs of employing someone are not just the salary)

Customs hire people abroad, i wouldnt expect them to do all the work here, im pretty sure royal mail/post office are fully uk based(they travel abroad but come back), i have car insurance with the post office and their cs is uk based.

@jamesdn you are now making so many different points that it's hard to keep track of them, and to be honest you seem to be contradicting yourself on some of them, but I will try to keep responding - as long as we are having a constructive debate. But I have to say, it seems to me that we can't win - that whatever we do you will find a way to criticise it. And that isn't constructive. so I'd ask you to consider some of what you are saying - otherwise it's just a waste of time for me to respond at all.


And can I ask you - as I have asked others - to stick to the facts and not muddy the waters with speculation.


1) Yes, I went to visit the Indian site, to check it out and meet the team face to face. As we are putting work there that is important for members I want to have confidence it's going to work well. I also regularly visit the Derry site, and other people who work for giffgaff travel around to meet other suppliers. It's simply due diligence and good business to do that. On the flip side, what do you think reaction would be if we didn't do that? Is it beyond belief that it might run something like this... "you mean you never even checked these guys out?!! you never even met them face to face?!!! you just trusted everything they said would happen?!! How shocking! how naieve?! I can't believe giffgaff would throw my money away like that, such callous disregard for my personal data!!"....etc. etc.


2) With respect you do not understand my point about why it is unreasonable to demand things of giffgaff that you do not demand of other companies regarding revenues and jobs 'moving overseas' and your replies to me on this demonstrate that perfectly:


@jamesdn quoting me:

"When you use facebook, twitter, flickr do you demand that all data is hosted on servers located in the UK?"


@jamesdn reply:

No, likewise nobody here complains the giffgaff website and community is hosted in the USA, or I believe some is being switched or has been switched somewhere in Europe, either way, still outside of the UK. Not a valid claim.


You've just demonstarted my point exactly....nobody, including you, complains about any of this - even though it happens all the time with every company. Yet for some reason I cannot understand, you see Indian offshoring in the contact centre industry as an exception to this - and therefore you do complain about that - and only that.


My point is there is no consistency in your position....why is OK to have the community hosted in the US, but not ok to process port ins in India?


3) You accuse us of passing over UK people for jobs, yet at the same time acknowledge that we have advertised for 4 roles on the O2 UK website - yet you then critcise us for creating these jobs too, based solely on your factless speculation that they are not 'essential' jobs....  like I said above, it seems like we simply cannot win with you. You criticise us for not creating UK jobs, and you also criticise us for creating UK jobs.


4) The post quoting our manifesto and

"You can be sure that if all the huge corporate mobile networks teamed up and started an anti-spongecake movement, we'd be hoisting that pro-spongecake flag quicker than you could say 'Just a thin slice, please'."


@jamesdn comment: "You can be sure that if all the huge corporate mobile networks decided greed was more important than looking after the unemployed people in the country in which they operate, we'd pretend to be different for 12 months or so then change and become just like them."


Saying stuff like this is simply not part of a constructive debate. How can I respond to this? What do you hope to achieve by making statements like this?






What I really like about this company is that senior staff will come and debate these issues with their customers. Most companies would just do it and not even tell us, never mind discuss it with us. 


Whether you agree or not with the decision, isn't it a good sign that these staff do take the time to at least try and address the concerns raised?